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Paid leave changes would hurt jobs: Labor

AAP logoAAP 27/10/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Labor has urged crossbench senators to consider the economic and jobs impacts before making a deal with Malcolm Turnbull over paid parental leave.

Independents Derryn Hinch and Nick Xenophon are edging closer to an agreement with the coalition which would put the axe to taxpayer-funded parental leave entitlement for up to 80,000 women - saving the budget about $1.2 billion.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the law change would undermine a push to improve women's workforce participation.

"If Mr Turnbull wants to talk up job creation ... (and) is committed to helping people find work and stay at work, drop the absurd paid parental leave propositions," Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

The prime minister and his deputy Barnaby Joyce have completed a week-long visit to Queensland where they talked up the need for job-creating projects such as roads, dams, tourism and the national broadband network.

Asked about the prospect of a deal on parental leave, Mr Turnbull said he would work with the crossbenchers.

"We're very committed to ensuring our national economic plan delivers the growth, the jobs that we need, and it does so above all else in a manner that is fair," he said of the scheme changes.

Labor may be taken out of the picture when the bill comes up for a vote in parliament.

Senator Xenophon is open to supporting the plan that aims to stop parents claiming both employer and government paid leave, provided the start date is delayed until October 2017.

"The January 1st start date has caused much angst and distress amongst expectant mums," Senator Xenophon said.

Fellow crossbencher Derryn Hinch, who also supports a delay to the start date but wants it set at July, says he'll sit down with Senator Xenophon to negotiate.

"We can probably get (the legislation) across the line."

Meanwhile, the prime minister took aim at Queensland's Labor government for holding up economic growth and jobs by playing politics with new dams.

"It's like they have to placate the Left of their own party or the Greens," Mr Turnbull said, launching a $440 million water plan.

"You're either serious about promoting productivity and exports and jobs and investment in the north, or you're not. We're serious. And to do that you need to put the dollars to work to build the industry."

Queensland Water Minister Mark Bailey said the federal government had offered 15 proponents funds for feasibility studies, but Mr Joyce had failed to tell them they would only receive their funding in arrears.

This meant the state government had to find $15 million to cover the cost of feasibility studies.

Mr Bailey said it was also misleading for Mr Turnbull to say the state was holding up projects.

"For them to be running around saying they would give an automatic $130 million for Rookwood Weir when their own policy says it is subject to the business case is simply misleading Queenslanders," Mr Bailey said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said handing Mr Joyce a $440 million pork barrel was a "recipe for disaster".

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